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Monday, April 26, 2010

Workin' aint Easy but it's Necessary-- A Look at the Tempest

A theme that is immediate when watching the Tempest is magic. Both Prospero and Ariel used their supernatural abilities to affect the natural world. Magic is used to change the weather, human perception and will. The drama then becomes not how the characters operate under their own free will, but the motivation behind why they are externally influenced. Propero is the manipulative puppeteer, and we are to understand why it is he feels the need to control others. Life if made easier for him when all others are subject to his magic. He does not have to persuade or participate in physical labor when he can will them to think or do whatever he wishes. Depicting magic in such a way, establishes the binary that magic (or anything that is deceptively more convenient)is less virtuous and valuable to human understanding and growth than doing things the hard, "human" way. It is difficult to persuade and work, but the realization that life is hard and suffering is valuable is much of what makes us human. We do not have magic, we are each granted only so much power. It too is an amazing power, but greed in providing ourselves with ease of living and too many conveniences makes one feel unfulfilled in our own endeavors.

1 comment:

  1. I think the presence of magic adds an interesting element to Postcolonial readings of The Tempest. In Nervous Conditions, a postcolonial text by Tsitsi Dangarembga, the main character recalls the white missionaries who came to her village as being described as magical. I think this sets up an interesting binary that further separates the already established binary between the colonizer and the colonized. To the colonized, the colonizer represents something that is outside of their realm of knowledge. In a sense, there is a reverse "othering" going on. But the binary is held by the colonizer's manipulation of the colonized with technology and Western knowledge. This type of "magic" acts as a subversive tool just as Prospero's magic does in the play.